Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

What's Your Advice for Joyce?

What’s the best car for a novice driver? Wait – don’t answer yet. We need to add a few criteria. Like, for example, having only $5,000 to spend. And, wanting something small…and safe…and cute…and reliable. Looking for all of the above is Joyce, who is in her mid 30’s and dyslexic, and has decided she’s ready to get behind the wheel. She’s itching for a classic Mini. Tom and Ray, however, are thinking more along the lines of a used Honda Civic, Chevy Aveo, or Toyota Echo. Got any suggestions for Joyce? Share them here !

Aveo, no-no-no. Not very sturdy. Civic or Corolla would be top choices.

You need to get a Volvo from the late '90s or early 2000s. They are very reliable, safe, and just small enough to suffice for any need, but looks nice too.

Joyce, by the time you have paid for the car, paid for the insurance, paid for the upkeep, and paid for your driver’s education classes, you could have solved the problem much more cheaply and easily by hiring a personal driver. If I were you, I would place an ad on Craigslist for a driver to be “on call” to help you out as needed. (Kind of like advertising for a babysitter.) Check the person’s references, check their insurance, then hire them to serve as an on-call chauffer. Plenty of safe, responsible college students or stay-at-home moms would probably love the extra cash and you would make a new friend!

I recommend a civic
it is spelled the same forwards and backwards
love yah
go fighting quakers!

something small…and safe…and cute…and reliable…and I think she said easy to work on. Honda makes an excellent car, but they are difficult to work on for a Shade Tree Mechanics like me. A friend of mine who totalled both a Honda and Toyota said he’s going to go with Toyotas from now on. He said the Honda have a better fit and finish, but the Toyota felt solidly built.

VW New Beetle

Rent a car when needed. If she rarely needs one, there is no need to buy one and pay for maint, insurance, taxes, parking, etc. when not using it.

Yes indeed rent after you learn to drive and have your husband’s insurance cover you,not the rental company’s.Also check out defensive driving courses in your area.They are usually well worth the effort, taught me how to watch for accidents waiting to happen.Get a used Corolla.
Best regards

Joyce is selling herself short when she insists that she MUST have a Smart Car or a classic Mini (both tiny) because, being dyslexic, she can’t handle anything bigger. First, she should talk with her neurologist or other specialist about whether the state will even let her have a license, if she’s as handicapped as she claims she is. If she’s not in the care of a specialist, she’s not going to have any trouble handling larger cars.

Her problem is that she has waited until her mid-30’s (or whatever) to try to drive. Most people learn at around 15 or 16, when they feel immortal, have the ability to learn new things quickly, and yearn for a license as a rite of passage. Joyce is old enough to be very apprehensive about driving, and is using her dyslexia (was there some other condition she mentioned?) as an excuse that “she can’t”. Granted, between her age and her dyslexia, she may have to take it a bit easier (and practice more) before going for the test. She can start by talking to several driving schools and explaining her condition and her fears, and request a small car to learn in. In a major metro area such as NYC, there will be driving schools that are used to dealing with fearful older adults. One of them is bound to have a sub-compact available.

After she has the basics down, or even at each step of the way during the school, her husband can take her to someplace large and open (such as a shopping mall parking lot before opening time) and let her practice driving at low speeds. She just needs to get some hands-on practice with maneuvering a small car in a non-threatening environment, with someone non-demanding at her side. Once she gets over her fears, she should have no trouble handling a sub-compact or even a compact. After a year or two of (fairly regular) driving, I’m sure she could handle even larger cars.

Nope. Unreliable.

I Would Opt For One Of Those Really Little, Right-Hand-Drive Mail Delivery Trucks.

They are small, cute, and simple. Right-hand-drive is nearly perfect for her with its “mirror image” quality.

Also, a used one would not be very “used”, after all, we’re talking about postal employees, here.

They should be fairly safe because she could leave the “U.S. Mail” insignias on it and continue driving with the emergency flasers on (I’m not sure they even turn off).

This could be a win-win situation for her. Who knows, Joyce might find lots of old mail in there, under the seat near the doughnut holes and french fries or behind a spare tire or whatever, containing old checks, extremely rare baseball cards, money orders or credit cards, sufficient to pay for it! Some of that mail I never received could be in there, including my last two orders from the U.S. Mint.

She needs an automatic transmission Miata. Nothing is easier to park than an Miata. In the winter she will need 4 snow tires.

he said NEW beetle, not old

I’d go with a Toyota Tercel.
Cheap to maintain, amazing mileage and easy to work on.
They look better than the Echo too.
Second choice would be a Honda Civic CRX, but those ride a little rough for me.

The only thing I have against your suggestion is that it would be less safe. Cars with the driver on the right are made to drive on the left side of the road for reasons related to visability and safety.

Considering what she said on the air, I think she should drive something smaller.

tom n ray, you knuckleheads! Put out an APB that will reach her “policeman friend in Maine”. Joyce needs a full defensive driving course that WILL address all the “reasons” (concerns) she now has THIS SIDE OF the driving course. It will change her whole perspective (THEN call her back on Stump the Chumps!). We don’t need more people on the road figuring it out as they go, while on a cellphone (perhaps calling you guys for advice? tee hee). GREAT program, thanks.

NEW VW’s are not that reliable! They need constant attention. Loose 1Qt of oil every 1000 miles even new, brake light & hazard switches fail regularly. Plastic body parts fall loose easily. Service are $$$$'s, even simple changing of lights. DON’T EVEN Think VW. I worked at the dealership. The car is job security for the mechanics.

i think for the money Joyce has to spend, she should go find a 1967-1975 Dodge Dart with a slant 6. i had a 1973 and the only thing i ever had to replace, aside from normal maintenance, was the windshield wiper motor. while there are no airbags, this car is all metal, it’s small/cute and the lil six cylinder is good on gas. plus it will be easy to insure…no full coverage. i’ve seen some of these cars in excellent shape for around $3000 on E-Bay and other classic car sites. the classic Minis are cool, but i’ve looked at them as well, and they are pricey. not to mention trying to get parts for them.